Before I get to the food, what other dining spot has a “shack cam” so you can check how long the line is to get in and belly up to the counter? It’s not uncommon to wait over an hour to place your order for a hamburger, fries, and milkshake here. But this isn’t any ordinary fast food joint. Shake Shack takes the simple grilled burger to a whole new level. Forget Kobe or Waigyu Beef burgers or the $25 – $50 gourmet burgers some places try to charge. Beat the fair weather crowds…that’s right, chilly spring weather is good! Even if you shiver easily, they have heat lamps outside where you can huddle and nosh on their Portabello Mushroom Burger topped with cheddar and signature Shack Sauce paired with a thick chocolate shake. Dining alfresco always makes the food taste better anyway!
Forget the “free” continental breakfast in your hotel and head out onto the streets for some breakfast on the go….NYC style. Hey, we
talk on cell phones, drive, and chew gum at the same time. There’s nothing like checking out a neighborhood when it’s still waking up early in the morning with a chewy bagel in one hand with steaming coffee in the other to give you that heightened perception. Stop over at Ess-A-Bagel where espresso and multi-flavored cappuccinos are custom brewed and hand-rolled bagels are just the beginning! For under $5, you can have a piping hot Spinach or Potato Knish, Rugelach, or pick from their wide variety of soups. Or simply grab a basic pumpernickel bagel and smother it with blueberry cream cheese.
Here, dishes top out at $8 for handmade Beijing-style street food. The best steamed dumpling shells are filled with either boiled seafood, fried cabbage and pork, or sweet red-bean paste. Also, don’t overlook their crisp sesame pancake sandwiches of pork, beef, and vegetables. They even sell frozen dumplings to try out on your own at home. So who cares that the interior has a fast-foody ambiance punctuated with a striking combination of orange walls and blue light fixtures! Bring your appetite and watch as your order is prepared on the spot. You may just learn something…..so you can walk away knowing how to do more than throwing your takeaway dumplings in boiling water.
A place has got to be good if it’s still around after opening here in NYC back in 1971….and in the Village, with all its high priced
gentrification, for that matter. At 119 MacDougal St., Mamoun’s serves up some mean falafel! This place is easy to pass with it’s brown awning blending in with brownstone but you’ll know you’ve arrived when you see more than a few folks burying their faces in something wrapped in foil. Staples include fast, cheap (under $5), and nicely moist falafel, creamy baba ghannouj and slow roasted shwarma.
photos courtesy of Steve Mirsky